Despite Gareth Edwards’ gritty, more realistic take on Toho’s Tokyo flattening superstar, some felt that the 2014 Godzilla wasn’t all it could have been. Shot with an intelligent style that visually aped everything from Spielberg’s Jaws and Jurassic Park to real life disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and the Fukushima Nuclear disaster, the common consensus was that for a film titled “Godzilla”, there wasn’t nearly enough Big G spread across the film’s run time and that way too much focus was given to human characters who made far less impact than the 164,000 ton title lizard.
Well, director/writer Michael Dougherty has certainly addressed THAT complaint but it may be a case of being careful what you wish for..
A veteran of monster movies thanks to his incredibly entertaining duo of seasonal horror flicks Trick R Treat and Krampus, Dougherty has turned in the most monstery American monster movie probably ever made with a grab bag of classic Toho characters that include supersonic pterodactyl Rodan, ethereal insect earth mother Mothra and three-headed devil-dragon King Ghidorah and yet this super-sized monster brawl insists on beating you about the senses until you stagger from the cinema suffering a close aproximation of concussion.
While never reaching the patience searing levels of, say, Transformers 5, or the IQ crushing stupidity of the G.I. Joe movies, it’s safe to say that G:KOTM isn’t exactly art, but then I guess it depends on what you want to get from it.
As a huge Hollywood version of the kind of fun pulpy plots Toho churned out year in, year out during the 60’s, it’s honestly fair to say that the movie is – technically – a success, with a clutch of interchangeable humans scampering around reacting to – and sometimes affecting – the vast devastation these massive animals cause simply by flexing a tail muscle. The plot involves some bollocks about Vera Farmiga’s character inventing a machine that can communicate with the “titans” and then getting abducted along with her daughter (Millie Bobby Brown) by sarcastic terrorist Charles Dance. Estranged husband Kyle Chandler (who had previously tangled with giant CGI wildlife in Peter Jackson’s King Kong) joins forces with secret organisation Monarch (somehow wielding a budget that makes S.H.I.E.L.D. look like a half-assed neighbourhood watch) to get his daughter back and finds himself in the midst of a power stuggle between a couple of super-alpha predators whose aggressive dick measuring could destroy the world.
Bottom line, the human stuff is the kind clumsy garbage you’d get in a shoddy 90’s blockbuster and a large clutch of very decent actors get to do nothing but stare horrified at screens and explain the plot out loud to no one in particular. Charismatic performers like O’Shea Jackson Jr. literally have nothing to do and I challenge anyone to remember any of the character’s names once the carnage ends and the credits roll.
So is there anything here that entertains?
That depends on your tolerance of all things CGI and noisy (of which I have tons of), and if you can embrace the computer generated insanity there’s actually quite a bit here to love. As a die hard, old school Godzilla fan, having a sizable chunk of his rogues gallery is delightful to see; even if Mothra and Rodan are more sidekicks to the main monsters (although Rodan’s enthusiastic dogfight with a bunch of fighter jets is a movie highpoint). The CGI upgrade works wonders too as having a Ghidorah whose heads aren’t realized by wildly flailing marionettes mean that there’s some cool character beats going on between those lightning spitting faces. They snarl, glare and even argue amongst themselves and the insane, gigantic war between them that impressively dominates the finale just about makes everything worth it.
It’s every inch a classic style Godzilla movie which unhelpfully is the main problem AND it’s saving grace; for every clunky bit of exposition, you get a blast of Akira Ifukube’s original Godzilla or Mothra theme that gets the blood pumping again.
Not as good as I hoped, yet not as bad as you’ve heard, here’s hoping that next year’s Godzilla Vs. Kong clears up that pesky issue that seems to trip up every modern monster movie. Those bloody humans.